No, in general terms, nude camping is not illegal in Washington State. In fact, it is not illegal to be naked at all in public places. Washington State has some of the more liberal laws when it comes to public nudity. However, there are exceptions…
Is Nude Camping Illegal in Washington?
Let’s start by pointing out that Washington State’s laws do not address “nudity”, but rather “indecent exposure”.
In the State of Washington, being publicly nude is not a crime, however being indecent about it is. It’s law concerning indecent exposure addresses acts intended to create affront or alarm with others nearby. Otherwise, as long as you are not being obscene about it, you’re fine…
Here is the actual text of the Washington State Criminal Code addressing indecent exposure…
(1) A person is guilty of indecent exposure if he or she intentionally makes any open and obscene exposure of his or her person or the person of another knowing that such conduct is likely to cause reasonable affront or alarm. The act of breastfeeding or expressing breast milk is not indecent exposure.RCW 9A.88.010
- The phrase “open and obscene” is critical here. It means both conditions must be met. You have to make some kind of open exposure and be obscene about it. That is, just being naked is not enough. You had to have performed some kind of act with your body knowing that others would find it obscene.
- The phrase, “knowing that such conduct” is also critical. You had to have known that others nearby would find it obscene. For example, if you were located in a remote area where there is no else around, you can claim that you did not meet the definition of indecent exposure. Also, if you consulted with others nearby that you wanted to perform open and obscene acts, and they all agreed they would not feel affronted or alarmed, then you can claim the same.
- The phrase, “cause reasonable affront or alarm” is also critical. This is because these terms are emotions, not material evidence. Therefore, law enforcement officials cannot cite you for indecent exposure without a witness willing to testify that he or she experienced these feelings. Material evidence such as a photograph or video, is not enough.
Nude Camping Remains Prohibited in State Parks
Washington’s Commission of Parks and Recreation has adopted a regulation that bans public nudity in all state parks, and throughout all areas of a state park…
(1) No person shall disrobe in public in any state park area. (2) Clothing sufficient to conform to common standards shall be worn at all times.WAC 352-32-100
Nude Camping on Washington State Trust Lands
The Washington Department of Natural Resources does not specifically address public nudity on DNR managed lands. However, they do address disorderly conduct. The Department’s definition of “disorderly conduct” is follows…
(b) For the purposes of this subsection, “disorderly conduct” means conduct that unreasonably disturbs the repose of other persons using department-managed lands; or is of a loud, threatening, insulting, boisterous, or abusive nature towards other persons, creating a risk of assault, fight, or riot; or by its indifference to or disregard for public safety, warrants alarm for the safety or well-being of others.WAC 332-52-130
Washington Cities and Counties
It’s possible, and probable, that several cities and counties in Washington State have adopted ordinances addressing public nudity, indecent exposure, or lewd acts. You will have to research the ordinances of the city or county you’re interested in to find out what, if any, restrictions apply.
All six federal land management agencies have lands in Washington State….
- Read our other article, “Is Nude Camping Legal on Federal Lands“.